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A Tree Grows in Fort Collins: A Look at the Colorado State Forest Service Nursery   arrow

Anne Wuerslin
Colorado State University Extension Master Gardener in Larimer County
May 23, 2015

Joshua Stolz - CSFS Nursery Manager

There’s a not-so-secret treasure trove of trees right in the northwestern foothills of Fort Collins. This local gem is the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) Nursery, located at 3843 LaPorte Avenue, Bldg 1060 at the Colorado State University Foothills Campus. It is a mother lode of plant materials, whose outreach extends beyond its 130 acres of field-grown bare root seedlings and greenhouse container-grown plants.

Under the stewardship of the Warner College of Natural Resources at CSU and with the overriding goals of conservation and sustainability in mind, CSFS supplies deciduous bare root and potted trees, shrubs and evergreens to 16 districts and three field offices in Colorado. The facility also directly ships to private consumers and outlying states as far away as Texas. Plants are meant to be used for conservation purposes such as reforestation, windbreaks, restoration of wildlife habitat and erosion control. Planting trees improves soil, air and water quality which benefit the environment for the home and landowner alike. Stock is selected for hardiness and vigor in our Rocky Mountain area. Trees and shrubs are planted in the facility’s open fields, and reach maturity in two or three years; the plants are then ready for potting and shipping. The materials are not for resale and are neonicotinoid free. In the 18,000 square foot greenhouse, plugs of favorite Rocky Mountain perennials such as columbines, coneflowers, penstemons and grasses are available.

CSFS Nursery

The CSFS Nursery Manager is Joshua Stolz. On staff since fall of 2013, he believes that plant material from the facility should be available from the “mountains to the plains”. With a degree in international studies and years of experience in the private green industry, Stolz and staff have been working hard as plant ambassadors. Historically, April and May are the busiest seasons for distribution. Upgrades in lighting, cooling and retrofitting of buildings in December 2014 have resulted in better and more efficient production. This year’s orders are beyond those of 2014. Walk up sales are welcome, Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm. In this way, CSFS functions like a local nursery.

Collaborative research with CSU and similar facilities is ongoing at CSFS. For example, Stolz looks to foster pollinator habit as a biological niche. Old varieties find new uses such as the sandcherry shrub for ditches and the Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) as an alternative to ash. Siberian elm makes for good shelter belts. Improving web and possible e-commerce sales are future projects.

Education about conservation and community outreach are both encouraged and practiced at CSFS. The facility has five permanent staff, hourly CSU students, seasonal paid employees and volunteers. Tours are possible and school groups are welcome.

For more information and to find out what stock is available, go to or call 970-491-8429. As described in their brochure, you can “…join the 5,000 Coloradoans who annually plant seedling trees to benefit the environment, themselves, and their neighbors!”

The author has received training through Colorado State University Extension’s Master Gardener program and is a Master Gardener volunteer for Larimer County.


Larimer County is a county-based outreach of Colorado State University Extension providing information you can trust to deal with current issues in agriculture, horticulture, nutrition and food safety, 4-H, small acreage, money management and parenting. For more information about CSU Extension in Larimer County, call (970) 498-6000 or visit


Looking for additional gardening information? Check out the CSU Extension Horticulture Agent blog at for timely updates about gardening around the state.


Visit PlantTalk Colorado ™ for fast answers to your gardening questions! PlantTalk is a cooperation between Colorado State University Extension, GreenCo and Denver Botanic Gardens.